Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

Thomas Gainsborough

A Portrait of Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci

Probably Bath, about 1773

Oil on canvas

76.6 x 64 cm

Giusto Tenducci (1734-1790) was a celebrated Italian singer who moved to England in 1758.

He was noted for his vanity and an extravagance which left him continually dodging his creditors.  Here he is shown performing, perhaps in a domestic setting.  A raised eyebrow suggests that he has hit the sort of high note associated with a castrato singer.

Gainsborough was a keen musician and he painted many portraits of musical friends as gifts or as show pieces.  The painting is unfinished.  The existence of another completed version in a private collection suggests that the artist perhaps abandoned this canvas and began again.

Purchased 1944 (No.44.3)